I admit it! My favorite thing I do as a blogger is visiting manufacturing facilities and seeing Made in America in action. I love to see how things are produced. It's even more fun when getting together with a great group of bloggers for our own tour and cheese making class.
I braved my hay allergy to visit a working dairy farm at the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese farm and factory and to get up close to the cows. I learned a little bit about dairy cows and how they are specifically bred to produce the highest yield of milk. The Holstein breed is the most familiar in North America and the most common at Heber Valley Artisan Cheese.
|Holstein calf at feeding time|
We got to get up close and personal with the brand new calves and a few members of our group got to bottle feed them. They eat a lot for being only a week old. Don't worry about the chain. They really are treated humanely as are all of the other cows on the farm. Their beds are kept clean and fresh and they are well fed by hand several times a day.
At Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, I was ecstatic to learn that their cows are not given hormones. In fact, the factory prides itself on being as close to organic as they can without actually certifying with the USDA as organic. If the certification process were not so expensive, there is no doubt they would certify. Now I know why certified organic foods are so pricey. It is to cover the cost of getting certified. It's tough to make a living as a farmer and yes, it is hard work.
Even with the help of milking machines, the farmer has to get up at 4:00 a.m. and spend two and a half hours milking his 150 cows. He does the milking again in the afternoon, taking as long the second time. This has to be done every day, all 365 days of the year. Farming has become a science and both the farmer and his son, who works with him, have engineering degrees. I never realized how much education it takes to farm. It's not just about calculating milk yields, but the farmers have to know about veterinary medicine as well. They know when their cows are sick and how to treat them. They have to monitor them to make sure the antibiotics they give them don't end up in our milk supply.
At Heber Valley, producing their own milk means they have the freshest milk on the market when they make their artisan cheese. When I say artisan, the cheese really is a work of art. Some of their creations age for 18 months before it's ready to be sold in their store or to other retailers in the valley. Since I am lactose intolerant, I don't eat a lot of cheese. However, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try all of the wonderful flavors at Heber Valley Artisan Cheese. It is times like this, I am grateful for Lactaid. I wouldn't have missed the cheese tasting for anything.
Yes, that is cheese with real Oreo® Cookies below. I didn't think I would like it but it is really good. A little sweet with a mellow taste of cheddar. I like the fact that Heber Valley Cheese doesn't use dyes to turn their naturally white cheddar cheese yellow. I don't need one more chemical in my food.
I tried so many different flavors I can't even remember them all. I ended up buying the Wasatch Back Jack which I learned took third place in a national cheese tasting contest. Definitely a well deserved award. The green chili juustoleipa was just as awesome. I took some of that home as well and my family loved it. As a chocolate lover, I couldn't pass up buying the Amano chocolate cheese. This is an aged cheese sprinkled with dark Amano chocolate. Yum! I can't wait to find it at my local grocers.
I can't even begin to tell my readers all of the things I was impressed with at Canyon View Farms and Heber Vally Artisan Cheese. The importance of family and the work ethic apparent with the Kohler family makes me a little envious my children weren't raised on a farm. The willingness to host our group for a day with smiles and kindness made me want to return. Most of all, I thought the facility would have a weird milk smell. However, my fears were put to rest as the facilities were the cleanest manufacturing facilities I have e ever visited. The cheese making room was exceptionally clean with no traces of spilled milk or leftover cheese anywhere. The big tub used to make cheese looked brand new with no leftover dairy residue. It is obvious that the family takes pride in what they do. It's definitely worth the 30-45 minutes drive from Salt Lake to Midway, Utah to visit the cheese shop. Also, for those searching for raw milk, it is one of the few places in Utah that is allowed to sell raw milk. Though most of their milk is pasteurized, they do package some raw milk.
Thank you Kohler family for hosting our group and for working hard to produce in the U.S.A. Farming is definitely Made in America at its finest.
**Disclosure: I did not receive financial compensation for this post though I did receive product samples to eat at the farm at no charge. Besides Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, the tour was sponsored by The Dairy Council of Utah and Nevada